October 23, 2006

Churches Thrust Into Marriage Debate in Virginia

This report in the Roanoke Times shows how much of the political battle over the issue of same-sex marriage in Virginia is being fought from pulpits of churches and amongst congregations.

VAMarriage.org, a coalition that supports the measure, has asked pastors to give Nov. 5 sermons for "Marriage Protection Sunday." The group has handed out "pastor packets" and other tools to galvanize voters. This is apparently legal since the churches are not endorsing a specific political candidate.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Marriage is something that cannot be tarnished," said the Family Foundation's Victoria Cobb at a recent pastors luncheon in Roanoke. "We believe the churches are key. The pastors must lead and remind people that this is a biblical issue."

"People of faith are not all on one side of the issue," said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, campaign manager for the Commonwealth Coalition, which opposes the measure.

"People of Faith for Equality in Virginia was formed more than a year ago to help voters understand that there are people of faith who are 'no' voters and that is OK. The other side doesn't have any campaign except to scare, shame and goad some people of faith into voting yes."

It personally makes me ill that churches are a political battleground. That is clearly not what Jesus had in mind and it angers me that some Christians can try to get me to believe that it is.


  1. I think the questions that aren't getting asked are: who created marriage...and how did that entity define it... and what is it supposed to represent... and what constitutes a biblical marriage... etc.

  2. Well, also there are the important distinctions to make here about the difference between the right to marriage and the rites of matrimony. No religious organization will have to bless or recognize any relationship that exists outside of their belief system, or be forced to perform any ceremonies. There is no infringement here of First Amendment protections of religious liberty.

    The Catholic Church, for example, does not permit the remarriage of divorced persons. The government, however, cares not how many times a person has been married or divorced before. Already, the government recognizes married couples that some faith groups do not.

    There is no state in the union that requires religious solemnization of a marriage; likewise, there is no state in the union that will recognize a religious solemnization of a union without a civil license.

    If anyone's First Amendment protections are threatened by such legislation, it would be religious groups such as the Metropolitan Community Church, the Quakers, the United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism and some dioceses of the Episcopal Church, which sanctify same-sex marriages. More conservative denominations should not have the power to override this religious freedom.

    A few months ago, someone wrote to the advice columnist at Slate Magazine to say they had been invited to a same-sex wedding, but they did not approve. How should they respond, they wanted to know? Don't send a gift, she answered.

  3. "I think the questions that aren't getting asked are: who created marriage..."

    That question has been asked repeatedly and I can assure you that you don't the answer.